Reserve Ben Williams scored 15 points and Deering used big middle periods to beat South Portland 63-53 in an SMAA boys’ basketball game Thursday night at Deering High.
Deering (11-5), which is ranked fourth in the Western Class A Heal point standings, took charge in the second quarter, outscoring the 11th-ranked Red Riots 25-16, then adding a 19-11 run in the third.
Williams, a 5-foot-11 guard, had 12 points over that span. Patrick Lobor, the Rams’ 6-4 center, scored his team’s first three baskets, all inside, to start the second half.
The score was 9-9 after the opening quarter, but Deering’s press forced South Portland turnovers in the second. The Rams scored the last basket of the first quarter, which sparked an 8-0 run overlapping the quarters before Patrick Conley of the Riots (6-9) hit a 3-pointer. Williams had two baskets in the spurt.
Ahmed Ahmed answered Conley’s 3-pointer with one of his own before Kam Harper of the Riots scored to make it 18-14. Ahmed’s basket started a 9-2 run. Ahmed had five of the points. Stephen Ochan, another key reserve for Deering, scored and Ahmed Ali added two free throws to make it 24-14.
The Riots cut it to 24-20 but Deering went on another spurt, this one 10-2 to make it 34-22 just before the half. Liam Densmore had two 3-pointers in the run.
With Lobor keying the fast start in the second half, the Rams were able to stay comfortably ahead. A couple of late 3-pointers gave the Riots a little hope but Deering, despite missing from the line, were never in danger.
Conley hit a 3-pointer from the side to make it 57-47 with 1:56 left and the Riots called a timeout. Seconds later, Matt Pelletier hit another 3 to make it 58-50 with 1:10 left, which brought another timeout. Williams scored on a layup at the end.
“We played great defense and boxed out,” said Williams. “Liam hit two 3-pointers in the second quarter and Stephen Ochan hustled all over the court.
“It was an all-around performance. We came out and executed and did what we had to do. This is a big win and should get our confidence up.”
One of Deering’s strengths is depth. Williams is the type of player who brings a lot of energy and often creates instant offense.
“Ben is a tough matchup for teams,” said Deering Coach Todd Wing. “He has a great first step and he’s strong. He can finish in a variety of ways around the basket. He’s a sophomore coming into his own.
“Ben is playing with a lot of confidence. He’s had some ups and downs this season but lately he’s had more ups. Ben knows what his game is and exploits it. Teams are aware of it but it’s still hard to stop.”
The game was a marked contrast to the first meeting of the season between the teams. Deering won by 10 at South Portland but needed overtime to do it.
“We didn’t get into foul trouble early like in the first game,” said Wing. “We were able to press them and make them turn it over. We were able to play our style and that was a huge difference from the first time. We did a better job getting on their shooters.
“South Portland hit some 3s late. The biggest thing is that we had only six turnovers in the second half. When South Portland pressed, we were solid with the basketball. And Patrick was able to finish around the rim. This is a nice win. South Portland is a tough team and they are well coached. We knew we had to give it our best effort.”
After Tuesday’s loss to Gorham, when the Riots scored only 23 points, Coach Phil Conley said he was looking for a complete-game effort and felt he got it.
“I wanted to see how the kids would respond after a tough game,” he said. “They showed me they have pride and they played hard for 32 minutes. We have to get ready for Scarborough on Saturday.”
After Scarborough, the Riots play at Portland on Tuesday and close out the regular season at home against Cheverus.
“I think we need another win to get into the tournament,” said Conley.
The Riots led 9-4 but Deering scored the last five points of the opening period. The Riots worked some good combinations for inside baskets in the second half.
“We couldn’t cut into their lead in the second half. I thought we did a much better job handling Deering’s pressure in the second half. We had three sophomores on the floor at one point in the game. We’re a young team and still learning,” said Conley.
Lobor added 12 points for the Rams. Ahmed Ahmed had 10 points.
Sophomore Jack Fiorini led the Riots with 14 points while Harper added 13. Jaren Muller had 11.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: